Gordon Ramsay to host new hotel makeover show

Gordon Ramsay to host new reality television show on Fox called Hotel HellWhile mostly known for his angry outbursts on reality cooking and restaurant-themed shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, and Kitchen Nightmares, the screaming Scottish chef apparently also has talent in hotel management. While no air date has been set, Gordon Ramsay has been chosen to host a new Fox reality show called Hotel Hell where he will partner with hospitality experts to revive struggling properties around the United States. Apparently, Ramsay has taken college courses in hotel management and has also been in charge of several hotel-based restaurants.

According to Entertainment Weekly, in a statement about the new project Ramsay said, “These are stories that everyone can relate to, because virtually all of us have had a bad hotel experience that’s turned a holiday or business trip into a total disaster. It’s time to put the hospitality industry to the test.”

Photo of the Day – Wildlife in Yellowstone

It’s easy to clutter your travel photos with all kinds of random visual information. But sometimes the best shot is also the simplest. For instance today’s snap from Photo of the Day regular fiznatty. While exploring the famous Yellowstone National Park, our photographer spotted this elusive Red Fox trotting through the pristine white snow. Your eye is drawn immediately to the fox’s reddish-orange coat, furry tail and quick movement. It almost looks as if the animal was dropped on a plain white canvas for added effect.

Have any great photos from your travels you’d like to share with the world? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Five outstandingly delicious places to eat in Alaska

In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.

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Particularly in the winter, it’s pretty crucial that you stay warm and well fed while in Alaska. We can’t make any promises about the ease of the former, but we’ve got the latter completely under control. Believe it or not, The Last Frontier is a foodie’s paradise, with a vast number of outstanding local eateries to choose from. During my stay in Anchorage, I was told that there were some 16,000 restaurant permits floating around the greater ANC area, which likely means that you’ve more food options than lodging choices. I was also interested to find that a great many of Alaska’s best eateries are tucked into what we Lower 48ers would call “strip malls.” I’ll admit — prior to visiting AK, I’d visited all 49 of the other states, and strip mall food was rarely a hit. Not so in Alaska. Read on to find out five totally delectable places to eat in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas; who knows, your favorite hole-in-the-wall might be in there!

%Gallery-118372%1) Silver Gulch

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This place didn’t even serve food three years ago, but after being a dedicated brewery for a decade, the owners decided to try their hand at something new. Good thing they did. Located in the tiny town of Fox, Alaska (around 20 minutes outside of Fairbanks), this restaurant and brewery makes its own grub and beer, and it’s easily one of the best meals you’ll find in the greater FAI area. The design of the place is refreshing as well, and the public is welcome to take a tour of the connected brewery at no charge. Looking for a recommendation? The Pub Pommes to get things going, the Halibut Tacos to stuff you and a walk around the brewery to make you feel a little better for overeating.

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2) Seven Glaciers

Perched high atop Alyeska Hotel, this AAA Four Diamond restaurant is a serious treat — from both a visual and deliciousness standpoint. I’ve never been to a place with a more astonishing entrance. In order to get here, you’ll need to step foot into a scenic tram that lifts you up the mountainside in a matter of minutes. The views of the surrounding mountain ranges in Girdwood (~45 miles outside of Anchorage) are downright breathtaking, and the food inside may be even more so. Reserve a table with a windowside view, and feel free to opt for any of the (seriously amazing) fish dishes. You’re in Alaska, after all!

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3) Moose’s Tooth

If you’ve heard of one restaurant in Alaska through the so-called grapevine, chances are it’s Moose’s Tooth. Situated in Anchorage, this place is widely known for having the best pizza in the state, maybe even the country. That’s a pretty tall claim, and after trying it for myself, I’d say the place mostly lives up to the hype. The vibe is laid back, the staff is warm and welcoming, and the service is top-notch. The food is truly world class; the only pizzas that I’ve had to rival this one in taste come from (the now defunct) Giordano’s in Chicago and Mellow Mushroom in North Carolina. Make no mistake — the sheer quantity of wild topping options is worth making a trip for, and I can guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.

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4) Lemongrass

Thai food… in Fairbanks? It’s true! In fact, Fairbanks is fairly well known for having a staggering array of Thai food options, and Lemongrass is a particularly delectable choice. As I alluded to earlier, this one’s tucked slyly within a strip mall of sorts, so it’s fairly easy to overlook. You’d be smart to look it up, though, as everything at the table I sat at drew wide smiles from those eating. Naturally, the Pad Thai was remarkable, so even if you aren’t feeling too adventurous, you can still snag a great Thai meal in Alaska.

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5) Crow’s Nest at the Captain Cook Hotel

I’ll be honest with you; this one’s worth stopping at just for the view. The food is delicious, mind you, but it’s a bit pricey and not quite as on-point as the grub at Seven Glaciers. But if you’re looking for the most impressive view of Anchorage from an eatery in the city, this is it. It’s located on the 20th (i.e. top) floor of The Captain Cook Hotel, and the overlook of the city (shown above) is simply astonishing. Be prepared to pay said view, though, and make absolutely sure you and your partner save room for the Bananas Foster dessert. That alone is worth making a reservation for.

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Obviously, there are a lot more than five great places to eat in the state of Alaska. Southside Bistro, Bear Tooth Theater Pub and Middle Way Cafe all come highly recommended in the Anchorage area, while Big Daddy’s BBQ in Fairbanks calls itself the most northerly place to get southern barbecue. Got any other great recommendations for food in Alaska? Shout ’em out in the comments section below!

[Images provided by Dana Jo Photography]

My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.

Top state parks in each state offer options for seeing native wildlife

If you want to find out which are the best state parks from the point of view of the director of each state park system, check out The Best of the Best State Parks at About.com

Darren Smith sent out a request to each director for his or her top choice. Because many directors turned in more than one offering, Smith included all suggestions. As he points out, a park that’s best for birdwatching may not be best for skiing. What’s “best,” therefore, is subjective. In the case of a best of the best list, the more the merrier.

Subjective or not, what makes these state parks standouts, according to Smith, are their natural beauty and natural resources, as well as, in some cases, their cultural and historical significance. They are also perfect for spotting the wildlife that is native to each state.

What intrigued me about Smith’s list of state parks is that there are many that are often overshadowed by the national parks and monuments that happen to be in that state as well. New Mexico is one such state.

I lived in New Mexico for nine years and traveled to every corner more than once. Although I did take in a few state parks, other travel options kept me busy.

I vaguely remember going to Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park and the City of Rocks State Park— two parks on the Best of the Best list, years ago. Part of the reason for my fuzzy recollection is that New Mexico state parks have plenty of competition with national parks and monuments located there.

White Sands National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park are just a few of the wow factor locations I’ve been to more than once.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, however, is where seeing wildlife native to New Mexico (and elsewhere) is a given. Prairie dogs, mule deer, bison and road runners are part of the critters who live in the Chihuahuan Desert where the park is located. The park is also involved with a program to ensure the survival of the Mexican Gray Wolf. These wolves are native to the southern part of the state.

What Smith was getting at when he compiled his list is that, although national parks often get more attention, state parks deserve notice too. Smith’s list is also a reminder that there are hidden gems worth discovering across the United States.

Sure, a national park is a fine destination, but while you’re on your way, add a state park to the itinerary. Because the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is near Carlsbad Caverns, for example, you can easily take in both on the same trip.

When planning a trip, use Smith’s list as a handy starting point. Each park has a link to its website, plus there are descriptions about why a particular park made the list and the wildlife you’ll see if you go there.

The photo of the fox was taken at Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria, Illinois. That park not on the Best of the Best list, but perhaps it should be. Wildlife Prairie State Park features 150 animals that are native to Illinois. The fox is one of them.

Family Guy in a corn maze at 105-year-old farm

In Utah, Edward and Jacob, the two guy hotties in Twilight, have found corn maze fame. At Connors Farm in Danvers, Massachusetts, Brian and Stewie from Family Guy are representing pop culture in an elaboratelyy, mowed cornstalk design.

The presence of both of these mazes is an indication of how many family-owned farms have stayed in business over the years. To stay afloat, keeping up with the times through ingenuity, multi-tasking and hard work is a must. Connors Farm is a perfect example of how many farms have changed.

Back in 1904, when the farm was established, the family took the produce by truck to Boston to sell the goods wholesale. This worked out fine until the price of sweet corn fell in the 1950s. Opening a small, roadside stand became the best option for making money. That move has developed into a family-fun, farm produce fresh gold mine.

Over the years, the stand has expanded to include fresh baked goods, gourmet pastas, jars of jams, jellies and sauces and the farm’s own products. The farm also partially operates as a U-pick establishment where visitors pick what’s in season. The annual Strawberry Festival, pony rides, hay rides, and autumn corn maze have made Connors Farm a multi-purpose, multi-age destination most of the year.

The Family Guy corn maze has turned out to be a brilliant choice. It’s attracted serious, media attention, for one thing. The video after the jump is a fun trip through the maze blended with Family Guy footage from FOX25NEWS in Boston.

There are two weeks left for this corn maze. The last night is October 31.